The time may finally have arrived to establish a graveyard for all those national catchphrases that have been so thoroughly absorbed by the entertainment-media culture that they long ago passed from chic to annoying. If such a graveyard existed, it would by now include ”Whatever,” ”Hel-lo,” the winkingly fascistic ”Don’t go there,” and an entry that I now humbly nominate: the no-longer-urban-cool declaration of covetous praise, ”That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!” This one, admittedly, has had a fine run, but when Snoop Dogg utters it, several times, in the dismal Los Angeles car wash comedy The Wash, he sounds only slightly less old-school than, say, Run-D.M.C.
Snoop, with his severely skinny face (his bones seem structured so as not to allow him to smile), looks like a young firebrand and a mean old man at the same time. He’s a charismatic presence, but in ”The Wash,” where he plays a blunt-smoking layabout, he doesn’t get to do much but snarl between rote insults. Snoop is teamed with Dr. Dre, the brilliant hip-hop composer-producer who has always been far more effective behind the studio control board than as a solo performer. Playing an assistant manager at the same nonautomated car wash where Snoop sells weed and chases booty on the scrub line, Dre, for some reason, looks jazzed as an actor only in a brief fantasy sequence where he gets to impersonate a uniformed cop.
This rusty jalopy of a movie, which is so ramshackle it’s nearly enough to make you forget how tossed-together the 1976 ”Car Wash” was, also features the big-screen debut of Eminem, in a role that looks as if it were filmed in its entirety in about half an hour. As a former car wash employee who lies around in a shadowy red bedroom screaming sociopathic obscenities over the telephone, he’s certainly a new screen type: the white rap devil.